Is Learning to “Communicate Effectively”​ as Easy as it Sounds?

communication

[ kuh-myoo-ni-key-shuhn ]

Noun

  1. the act or process of communicating; fact of being communicated.
  2. the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs… (dictionary.com, 2020). 

I’m not in the minority when I say that at times, I am a bad communicator. We are humans. Our desire to be heard is a reason why we often communicate without listening or allowing the other party to exchange ideas. 

Communication happens in many ways. Body language, tone, and listening help to round out effective communication. Job mistakes and misunderstandings arise because of a lack of listening, communication, and meeting of the minds. Listening with the intent to respond rather than with respect and understanding can create problems in meetings and on the job. Speaking in a specific tone can be offensive. Body language can make communication unclear and even offensive in some cultures. 

How do we train employees to be effective communicators? Humans are complex. Adult learning is complex. Adult learners want skills to be relevant and easy to apply to their jobs. Additionally, motivation plays a large role in adult learning. How can we teach teams to be effective communicators? Consider making the skill of effective communication: 

  • Relevant to their job,
  • Give employees a chance to apply the skill and, 
  • Motivate employees to learn. 

Relevance

Training must be relevant to an employee’s job role. A generic course on effective communication means nothing to an employee who specializes in product sales. Consider aligning effective communication strategies with their job role. 

Example: Effective communication is critical for jobs that involve an employee or team safety. Listening takes an active (even life or death) role for an employee who is a system operator for a utility company. System operators may complete training on how to apply human performance listening tools like ” three-way-communication.” Incorporating effective communication techniques like speaking clearly and active listening gives the employee tools to be a better communicator in their role. 

Application 

Training is often “one and done.” Most learners leave their training at the door when they leave the session. Training does not end when the learner leaves class. Training should extend beyond the classroom. Employees need to be able to successfully perform a task and managers should be able to measure their employees’ performance. Managers should receive training on how to observe and measure and provide feedback regarding their employees’ performance. Learners also need to have a safe environment to practice, make mistakes, and improve their newly learned skills. 

Example: Listening and clear communication mitigates mistakes when safety operators perform the “three-way-communication” task. Learners need to have an environment where they can safely practice and perfect the skill and newly learned communication approaches while managers observe while providing respectful and clear feedback. 

Motivation

Demonstrating how training is relevant and easy to apply to their job will help to motivate employees to learn and use the skill in their work roles. Effective communication is relevant and highly motivating to a system operator as, without it, the consequences are grave. 

Example: A system operator’s motivation is to not be physically harmed or harm someone else while performing their job.

Consider incorporating effective communication techniques into your next employee training. Show your team how communication is relevant to their role, give them space to practice, and help motivate them to succeed. 

Published: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/learning-communicate-effectively-easy-sounds-kellie-tinnin/, 10/25/2020

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